In antiquity, courts could sentence a person convicted of a crime into exile. For example, in ancient Athens, According to the preserved part of the inscription, unintentional homicides receive a sentence of exile, while intentional murders are punishable by death.

Today, article nine of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. The Wikipedia article on exile describes the practice of former heads of state being exiled to far-off countries, but this is rather a politically motivated move in an attempt to build stability than a punishment decided in a court of law.

Do any contemporary legislations have the power to impose exile by a court order, such as to sentence a person convicted to exile? I think there are court orders than a person can no longer be close to another person, their home, their workplace or perhaps their children's school, but what about exile as in being forced to leave the home city, region or country completely?

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    Would the US Sex offender registration and restrictions count? Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 17:54
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    @Chad I don't know. What does it restrict? Entrance to a particular school? Entrance to a particular city? Entrance to a particular state? Entrance to the US?
    – gerrit
    Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 17:55
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    @gerrit - IIRC, being able to live within N distance from schools. For a town with very high distribution of school locations, it CAN, in effect, amount to not being able to settle in that city.
    – user4012
    Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 18:15
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    It can mean that you have to move. potentially out of a city. For the city that I live in there are 3 areas that qualify and all of them would be considered impoverished areas and the police recommend avoiding them if possible because of the danger of violence. Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 18:49
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    The problem with exile, I'd imagine, is you'd have to find a country willing to take in someone bad enough that you'd exile them from your country. Tough enough when we try to extradite characters back to their nation of origin, and that nation says "Nope, not ours any more. You can keep him/her." Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 15:20

5 Answers 5


Internationally speaking, there are actually no countries using the exile or banishment in their current legislation because this is regulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so (to repeat) there's no country (so far) using exile in their laws. But juridically speaking, there's one case of internal exile; The state of Georgia (US) tried to exile criminals from living in their counties. According with NBC News,

The Georgia Supreme Court acknowledged with its 6-1 decision that banishing convicted criminals from the state is illegal, but it upheld a tactic by judges who ban them from living in all but one of Georgia's 159 counties.

That's what happened to Gregory Mac Terry, who was restricted from living everywhere in Georgia except rural Toombs County after he pleaded guilty in 1995 to charges he assaulted and stalked his estranged wife. Defense attorneys call the strategy "de facto" banishment. Prosecutors say the orders are a way to rid criminals from populated areas and protect victims from repeat offenses.

There's always the political exile which is offered in many countries and contemplated under the international law. Alfredo Stroessner, for example, after the coup d' etat suffered in Paraguay, went to Brasilia and lived under the exile privileges until his death.

If you like to understand more about the case of Georgia, see this whitepaper.

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    Specifically, if I remember right, it's because there are international laws on statelessness and all seem to be in agreement that you shouldn't make someone stateless. It brings up all kinds of unpleasant issues for countries who find such a person within their borders. Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 10:06
  • That is correct @PointlessSpike and one more thing: the citizen can resign their citizenship, just to add information.
    – nelruk
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 12:38
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    @nelruk- Yes, but to make the distinction, citizenship isn't the same as being allowed to reside. A non-citizen can live in a country. What matters is whether you forcibly remove them without giving them somewhere to go. Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 12:51
  • Prosecutors say the orders are a way to rid criminals from populated areas I wonder how honest citizens from Toombs County feel about that.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 8:26
  • Many countries have declared that the UDHR has no force of law. It cannot therefore be the reason for those countries refraining from imposing exile.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 17:21

France just announced that it stripped of their French citizenship five people who were sentenced following their involvement in a terror attack in Morocco.

So those five people:

  • Have been found guilty of a crime
  • Are/were French citizens
  • Will effectively be banned from coming back to France

which does amount to an exile of sorts. The same procedure had been used in May against someone who was finally expelled from France in September.

There are however two small details that might not exactly fit the notion of “exile as a regular sentence”:

  • It's not a regular sentence issued by a judge as a matter of course but a decision by a minister (subject to prior advice from a court and of course to an appeal). And it is extremely rare (before the 2014 cases, the last one was in 2007).
  • All the people concerned have another citizenship. In fact, stripping someone of their French citizenship is only possible if that person would not become stateless and if they became French less than 10 or 15 years ago (depending on the details).

Being banned/forcibly removed following a crime, typically on top of another sentence, is of course relatively common in many places, for non-citizens (which is where the analogy with earlier times often breaks, modern notions of citizenship are very recent).


Not really contemporary but, as the best try, exile was a legal practice in USSR.

The Criminal Code of RSFSR had a provision for such a punishment until 18 February 1993, i.e., it was cancelled only after the breakup of the USSR and even technically existed in modern Russia for more than a year.


Assuming you are convicted of a crime in a foreign country, you can be effectively exiled from ever visiting that country again after your jail sentence is over. It's also possible that other countries will refuse to issue you visas as well, so you might find yourself restricted from a large percentage of the world's territory.

A common example: if you are convicted for a serious crime in the US, your profile will automatically be transferred to the Five Eyes countries, who could then pass it on to the European Union and other close partners. In an even worse scenario you might end up on the Interpol database, which could effectively bar you from all countries except the one where you're a citizen.


It still occurs, but using the term exile has fallen out of modern parlance. Exile itself is against Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."

Currently, France is "repatriating" Romanian and Bulgarian Roma people, which can be considered a form of exile, and the EU has considered legal action against France.

from wikipedia: Due to the actions of France, and the reaction by the EU, national governments of the Member States of the European Union were obliged to put in place national strategies and concrete plans for the integration of Romani people and to report on their implementation annually.[1] In August 2012 Viviane Reding has put the action of the French socialist government of Jean-Marc Ayrault and his Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls under surveillance responding to the actions of alleged expulsions of roma people.[2] The call resulted in a shift of policy by the French government confirmed in a Ministerial executive order[3] signed by nine French Ministers and placing the focus of the action on the integration of the Roma as called for by the European Commission.

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    -1 - exile implies being moved away from one's home - while, from the Wiki link you provided, Romanian and Bilgarian Roma people are very clearly NOT "homed" in France. Whatever one's opinion of ethics/morality/legality of the action, exile is not a valid term to use for it.
    – user4012
    Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 18:46
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    Sorry, the edit didn't fix it. Again, it may be against EU political wishes, but it's not "exile" if you deport someone who illegally settled in a place they were not there before. It's "deportation", "expulsion", but not "exile".
    – user4012
    Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 20:17
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    Also, individual Roma that are being deported have the right to re-enter France as long as they don't violate immigration laws (which they did).
    – user4012
    Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 20:22
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    I agree that it does not qualify as exile to deport Romanians and Bulgarians, although there have been reports conflating French Roma with recent immigrants, and camps with French Roma have also been forcibly removed. As for the legality of deporting Romanian and Bulgarian citizens, I've asked a question on that.
    – gerrit
    Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 21:11
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    Article 9 forbids arbitary exile. It doesn't forbid all forms of exile.
    – Christian
    Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 14:59

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